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AP News in Brief at 11:04 p.m. EDT

por Douglas Tolmie (2020-11-22)

Trump, Biden go after each other on coronavirus, taxes

(AP) - President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden scrapped over how to tame the raging coronavirus in Thursday´s final 2020 debate, largely shelving the rancor that overshadowed their previous face-off in favor of a more substantive exchange that highlighted their vastly different approaches to solving the major domestic and foreign policy challenges facing the nation.

With less than two weeks until the election, Trump sought to portray himself as the same outsider he first pitched to voters four years ago, repeatedly saying he wasn´t a politician. Biden, meanwhile, argued that Trump was an incompetent leader of a country facing multiple crises and tried to connect what he saw as the president´s failures to the everyday lives of Americans

The night in Nashville began with a battle over the president's handling of the pandemic, which has killed more than 225,000 Americans and cost millions of jobs.

Trump declared that the virus will go away while Biden warned that the nation was heading toward "a dark winter." Polling suggests it is the campaign's defining issue for voters, and Biden declared, "Anyone responsible for that many deaths should not remain president of the United States of America."

Trump defended his management of the nation's most deadly health crisis in a century, dismissing Biden's warning that the nation had a dire stretch ahead due to spikes in infections.

And he promised that a vaccine would be ready in weeks.

"It will go away," said Trump, staying with his optimistic assessment of the pandemic. "We´re rounding the turn. We´re rounding the corner. It´s going away."


The Latest: Final debate ends on different tone than 1st one

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Latest on the presidential campaign (all times local):

10:55 p.m.

The second and final debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden has ended, with a remarkably different tone than their first meeting.

Trump and Biden debated for just over 90 minutes at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, on Thursday night.

The faceoff included substantive debate on a number of topics including the response to the coronavirus pandemic, immigration and how each would handle climate change as president.

The nominees´ first debate was so raucous that changes were enacted to make the next one more orderly.
Those modifications included a mute button controlled by a representative of the Commission on Presidential Debates, to ensure that each candidate would have two full minutes uninterrupted for opening answers on each topic.


Debate Takeaways: Trump gets personal, Biden hits on virus

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden met for the second and last time on a debate stage Thursday after a previously scheduled town hall debate was scrapped after the Republican incumbent became one of the millions of Americans to contract coronavirus.

For Trump, the matchup at Tennessee´s Belmont University was perhaps the final opportunity to change the dynamics of a race dominated, much to his chagrin, by his response to the pandemic and its economic fallout.

For Biden, it was 90 minutes to solidify an apparent lead less than two weeks before the election.

Here are key takeaways: COVID-19 STILL A DRAG FOR TRUMP

Trump's difficulty articulating a defense of his handling of the coronavirus remains a drag on his campaign. The opening topic of the debate was entirely predictable - Trump has received variations of the same question in interviews and has rarely delivered a clear answer.

Asked to outline his plan for the future, Trump instead asserted his prior handling was without fault and predicted a rosy reversal to the pandemic that has killed more than 220,000 Americans.


AP FACT CHECK: Examining claims from last Trump-Biden debate

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden sparred Thursday in their final presidential debate, hoping to sway undecided voters in the Nov.

3 election.

A look at how their statements from Nashville, Tennessee, stack up with the facts:

BIDEN: "Not one single person with private insurance would lose their insurance under my plan, nor did they under `Obamacare,´ they did not lose their insurance, unless they chose they wanted to go to something else."

THE FACTS: He's wrong about "Obamacare."

Then-President Barack Obama promised if you liked your health insurance, you could keep it under his Affordable Care Act, but that´s not what happened for some.


US: Russian hackers targeting state, local networks


officials said Thursday that Russian hackers have targeted the networks of dozens of state and local governments in the United States in recent days, stealing data from at least two servers. The warning, less than two weeks before the election, amplified fears of the potential for tampering with the vote and undermining confidence in the results.

The advisory from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security's cybersecurity agency describes an onslaught of recent activity by a Russian state-sponsored hacking group against a broad range of networks, some of which were successfully compromised.

The alert functions as a reminder of Russia's potent capabilities and ongoing interference in the election even as U.S. officials publicly called out Iran on Wednesday night.

The advisory does not identify by name or location those who were targeted, but officials say they have no information that any election or government operations have been affected or that the integrity of elections data has been compromised.

"However, the actor may be seeking access to obtain future disruption options, to influence U.S. policies and actions, or to delegitimize (state and local) government entities," the advisory said.


officials have repeatedly said it would be extremely difficult for hackers to alter vote tallies in a meaningful way, but they have warned about other methods of interference that could disrupt the election, including cyberattacks on networks meant to impede the voting process.
The interference could continue during or after the tallying of ballots if Russians produce spoofed websites or fake content meant to confuse voters about election results and lead them to doubt the legitimacy of the outcome.


GOP-led Senate panel advances Barrett as Democrats boycott

WASHINGTON (AP) - Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans powered past a Democratic boycott Thursday to advance Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court nomination to the full Senate, keeping President Donald Trump's pick on track for confirmation before the Nov.

3 election.

Democratic senators refused to show up in protest of the GOP's rush to install Trump's nominee to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Never has the Senate confirmed a Supreme Court nominee so close to a presidential election.

All 12 Republicans on the committee voted in favor of Barrett, a conservative judge.
No-show Democrats left behind posters at their desks of Americans they say have benefited from the Affordable Care Act, now being challenged at the high court. Senators plan to convene a rare weekend session before a final confirmation vote expected Monday.

"Big day for America," Trump tweeted after the committee vote.

Barrett, 48, would lock a 6-3 conservative court majority for the foreseeable future.

That could open a new era of rulings on abortion access, gay marriage and even the results of this year's presidential election.


FDA approves first COVID-19 drug: antiviral remdesivir

U.S. regulators on Thursday approved the first drug to treat COVID-19: remdesivir, an antiviral medicine given to hospitalized patients through an IV.

The drug, which California-based Gilead Sciences Inc.

is calling Veklury, cut the time to recovery by five days - from 15 days to 10 on average - in a large study led by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

It had been authorized for use on an emergency basis since spring, and now becomes the first drug to win full Food and Drug Administration approval for treating COVID-19.

President Donald Trump received it when he was sickened earlier this month.

Veklury is approved for people at least 12 years old and weighing at least 88 pounds (40 kilograms) who are hospitalized for a coronavirus infection. For patients younger than 12, the FDA will still allow the drug´s use in certain cases under its previous emergency authorization.

The drug works by inhibiting a substance the virus uses to make copies of itself.

Certain kidney and liver tests are required before starting patients on it to ensure it's safe for them and to monitor for any possible side effects. And the label warns against using it with the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, because that can curb its effectiveness.


Trump posts unedited '60 Minutes' interview before it airs

NEW YORK (AP) - President Donald Trump took on the country's most influential news program in unprecedented fashion, posting unedited video of interviews that he and Vice President Mike Pence gave to "60 Minutes" before its broadcast this weekend.

The video released Thursday shows an increasingly agitated president parrying with interviewer Lesley Stahl on issues like the coronavirus, health care and his demeanor on social media before abruptly ending the session.

With Pence, Stahl said the men had insulted "60 Minutes" by giving campaign speeches and not answering questions.

"I feel aggrieved," she said.

The president, in following through on a threat to make the full interviews public, tweeted that the public should compare Stahl's "constant interruptions and anger" with his "full, flowing and `magnificently brilliant´ answers."


Pope's civil union words spark reactions around the globe

MEXICO CITY (AP) - Across the globe, Pope Francis´ comments endorsing same-sex civil unions were received by some as encouragement for an advancing struggle and condemned by others as an earth-shaking departure from church doctrine.

In the Philippines, officials saw the potential for political change in the wake of the pope's words.

In Zimbabwe, activists for equal rights applauded the move, but doubt it would quickly bring change in a country where discrimination against the LGBT community continues to be widespread.

Nowhere was reaction more divided than in Latin America, where the Roman Catholic Church remains influential - and where some countries have legalized same-sex marriage in recent years over objections of the church.

Earlier this year, Costa Rica became the sixth country in Latin America to allow same-sex marriage.

Ecuador legalized it last year, and Panama is in the midst of a heated debate on the subject now. It is also permitted in some parts of Mexico as well as Brazil, Argentina, Colombia and Uruguay.

The latest push has been propelled in part by an opinion issued in January 2018 by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
It said the 25 countries that signed the American Convention on Human Rights had to guarantee that all rights available to heterosexual couples were also extended to homosexual couples.


Colorado wildfires drag on later than normal, break records

DENVER (AP) - Orange skies, winds gusting up to 70 mph, smoke tornadoes and hazardous air.

While it could be an apocalyptic scene out of a movie, it has become the reality of Colorado's wildfire season.

The blazes have burned the second-most acreage since 2000 and included the state's two largest on record. One of Colorado´s smaller fires exploded late Wednesday from 30 square miles (78 square kilometers) to 196 square miles (508 square kilometers) and closed Rocky Mountain National Park.

Fire officials say it has so far burned 265 square miles (686 square kilometers).

Normally, snow helps tamp down the devastation by this time of year, but drought across Colorado and warming temperatures have dragged out the season, fire scientist Jennifer Balch said.

"We don´t see October fires that get this large," she said.

Colorado's fires haven't destroyed as many homes as the headline-grabbing wildfires in California and the Pacific Northwest the past few months, but they have worn down residents already weary from the coronavirus pandemic.

ISSN: 1980-5861